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J Prev Interv Community. 2009;37(2):86-99. doi: 10.1080/10852350902735551.

Age differences among homeless individuals: adolescence through adulthood.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA.


The present study examines differences between homeless adolescents, young adults, and older adults served by homeless shelters or food programs to inform service provision. Four homeless studies using the same sampling and measurement methods were pooled to permit comparisons across age groups. Results showed that homeless adolescents demonstrated greater resilience than younger and older adults. Adolescents reported the shortest duration of homelessness, lowest number of life stressors, fewest physical symptoms, largest social networks, and fewest clinically significant mental health problems. Adolescents also received fewer alcohol and drug abuse diagnoses than younger and older adults. Younger adults reported less time homeless and fewer physical symptoms than older adults, but more life stressors. Younger adults also endorsed higher levels of hostile and paranoid psychological symptoms. Implications for service provision and policy are discussed.

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